After inspecting the stadium, meeting with campus and Gainesville city officials, and assessing available resources, Florida decided its Southeastern Conference opener against Tennessee would be played as scheduled.
The SEC said Tuesday that the league opener between the No. 23 Volunteers (2-0) and the 24th-ranked Gators (0-1) will remain a 12:30 p.m. PDT kickoff at Florida Field, a.k.a. “the Swamp,” on Saturday, keeping the game intact less than a week after Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Sunshine State. Florida’s scheduled home opener against Northern Colorado was canceled Thursday as the storm approached.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said the decision was made after meeting with local officials. The Gators’ stadium sustained minor damage to signage.
“While we know how important it is for this campus and the Gainesville community to host a game, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that have been impacted by the storm,” Stricklin said.
In another Irma-related move, Indiana will host Charleston Southern on Oct. 7, replacing this weekend’s game against Florida International, which was canceled because of the storm.
Pac-12 picks up pace
The Pac-12’s test program to shorten games appears to be doing just that. All nonconference games airing on the Pac-12 Network this season have reduced quarter breaks, and a few have fewer commercial breaks too. Some games feature 15-minute halftimes.
In the 12 games so far that have been part of the pilot program, average game time is down to 3 hours 16 minutes, according to the league. Washington’s 63-7 win over Montana last weekend lasted just 2:54. Last season, the Pac-12 averaged 3:26 per game.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that on the league’s opening week, the test allowed fans watching at home to see all the game between Southern Utah and Oregon and the first play of Western Michigan at USC in a tight broadcasting window.
Mississippi’s football program began its hearing in front of the NCAA’s infractions committee panel on Monday, nearly five years after the governing body first launched its investigation. The Rebels are facing 21 allegations, including 15 that are classified as Level I, which the NCAA deems the most serious. The charges in the wide-ranging case involve academic, recruiting and booster misconduct. All of the alleged football violations happened under the program’s two previous coaches — Hugh Freeze and Houston Nutt. … Nebraska coach Mike Riley has been given a one-year contract extension through the 2020 season. No salary for the fourth year was listed in paperwork the school provided to the Associated Press. Riley’s base salary is $2.9 million this year, $3 million in 2018 and $3.1 million in 2019. He is 16-12 with the Cornhuskers, including 1-1 this season after a 42-35 loss at Oregon last week. … Longtime Northern Arizona coach Jerome Souers is stepping down after this season, though not because of the Lumberjacks’ slow start. The 59-year-old Souers is in his 20th season coaching the Lumberjacks, who are off to an 0-2 start this season. He is the winningest coach in Big Sky Conference history with 112 wins. … Baylor quarterback Anu Solomon is going through his team’s concussion protocol because of symptoms he felt after the last game, a loss to Texas San Antonio. Coach Matt Rhule had already named sophomore Zach Smith as the starting quarterback when the Bears, 0-2, play at Duke on Saturday. … Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has named Conor Rhoda as the team’s full-time starting quarterback.